Deakin Communicating Science 2016

EES 200/101

Ghost fishing… the ocean death trap

Swimming in the ocean is a free-living marine animal that could potentially encounter a non-visible net. Once they have become entangled they are not capable of escaping, the plastics used to make fishing nets are very durable making it impossible for them to break free. If they haven’t already drowned within minutes, they will suffer from distress, wounds, infection and starvation. They will endure a long, prolonged death where the matter of time can be months or years before they draw one last breath. Who is out there to save them before it is too late? Nobody.

011646.jpgEach net is a floating death trap

I cannot even fathom the vast amount of precious marine life that have been endangered to ‘ghost’ fishing. Our oceans are not a safe place for marine animals to live in if they are at a high risk from being caught in traps. ‘Ghost’ fishing gear are abandoned, lost or discarded in our oceans that are posing a threat for marine life to survive. Millions are killed and mutilated every year and the animals that are among this catastrophic issue are whales, fish, seals, turtles and birds. An estimated 870 nets were recovered off Washing State in the US that contained more than 32,000 marine animals. This was only in the Washing State alone, imagine a worldwide estimate.

Every ocean and sea on Earth is affected

No habitat is free from this pollution and even remote Antarctic habitats are threatened. World Animal Protection estimates that entanglement in ghost gear kills at least 136,000 seals, sea lions and large whales every year. An inestimable number of birds, turtles, fish and other species are also injured and killed.

136, 000 – This abundance of animals is far too much to be ignored.

Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 12.55.08 PM.png

Fishing lines are extremely strong and resistant to biting and chewing by entangled animals

Fishing lines are extremely strong and durable, causing animals to become entangled and trapped. Due to their thin diameter, they can readily cut through skin, flesh, and even bone when caught. No animal deserves to have their habitat disturbed from human activities that ultimately kill them in the process.

Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 11.55.09 AM.png

It is estimated that 640,000 tonnes of fishing gear are added to our oceans annually

It is detrimental to our oceans environment to have fishing gear in place. Not only does it harm our exquisite marine life, it poses a threat to marine flora and fauna.

In 2012, there was a distressed and exhausted gray whale freed from a net fragment off California. It was found towing a 50 feet of net, which had retrieved a dead sea lion and numerous sharks, rays, crabs and fish.

Screen Shot 2016-04-16 at 1.24.28 PM.pngThis is the unfortunate reality of ‘ghost’ fishing. Millions of animals can be prevented from this cause and in doing so action has to be made. The World Animal Protection’s Sea Change campaign aims to save at least 1 million marine animals by 2018. World Animal Protection have formed the Global Ghost Gear initiative that aim to create an alliance of governments, industry, intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations to address the problem of ghost fishing gear. As more campaigns address this issue, it can be said with confidence that marine animals will be able to live in a non-threatening environment within our oceans. Through marine conservation, we can protect and preserve ecosystems in oceans and seas and save vulnerable marine species.


World Animal Protection 2014, Fishing’s phantom menace, World Animal Protection, retrieved 13 April 2016, <>

World Animal Foundation 2015, Help Save Aquatic Animals, World Animal Foundation, retrieved 7 May 2016, <>







4 comments on “Ghost fishing… the ocean death trap

  1. bluebandedbee
    April 19, 2016

    Oh this is so sad! The extent to which our oceans have been affected by humanity are so understated! This just highlights the evils that carelessness can have on the valuable lives of marine animals.
    – Turtles, for example, are known to have very few predators. It is estimated that only 1 in 1,000 hatchlings will make it to adulthood – Humans are one of the greatest threats to this marine animal; the hunting and trade of their meat and eggs, plastic waste including plastic bags, bottles, balloons, packaging and other random items. The fishing impacts including trawl nets (like you mentioned in your blog) are devastating. And lastly human development of coastal areas obstruct the turtles access to nesting beaches. (BSTS
    I was wondering how the World Animal Protection’s Sea Change campaign will implement its aim to save marine animals? Are there regulations on fishing nets, or ways to make them less destructive?


  2. Lisa
    May 1, 2016

    This absolutely disgusts me, the fact that so many beautiful marine creatures are dying because of humans being careless or simply just lazy really saddens me. What’s even worse is that ghost fishing isn’t even the only negative impact humanity has on the ocean. According to a recent study done on human’s global impact on marine ecosystems, 40% of the world oceans have heavily been affected by human activities such as; Fishing, coastal development and pollution from shipping. Many scientist believe pollution to be the main cause of devastating illnesses among marine animals such as nervous and digestive system problems, liver disease, endocrine system damage, reproductive malformations, and growth and development issues. If this disruptive behavior continues many of our diverse marine wildlife will disappear, something must be done.

    Bob Bohle, 2000-2007, the effects of ocean polluting on marine mammals, Blue Voice, retrieved: 1st may 2016,

    Protect planet ocean, 2010, What impacts do humans have on the ocean? Protect Planet ocean, retrieved: 1st may 2016,


  3. Adam
    May 4, 2016


    This is an incredibly important topic, thank you for covering it.

    I think you have made some great points but would love to see some discussion on what could be done to prevent marine animal deaths by nets? It would be great if you could include some links to external sites for further information on this topic.

    Also, please have a friend or family member read over this for grammar mistakes and clarity of sentences. There are quite a number of grammar mistakes which could be fixed up to make this a much easier read.



    • Adam
      May 4, 2016

      PS. Fishing nets not only kill lots of marine mammals, birds and sharks but also innumerable numbers of fish. These poor guys are always forgotten about. 😦


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This entry was posted on April 16, 2016 by in Burwood - Thursday 2pm, Uncategorized.

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